California Girls: Missions and Waterfalls

We didn’t visit the Santa Barbara mission on this trip (emo had already visited once) but we toured the Santa Ines mission in Solvang and drove out to La Purisima Concepcion in Lompoc.  But first, we wanted to take advantage of our morning and take a walk.  I searched online and found a waterfall nearby that seemed like the perfect place for us to visit for an hour or so.  So we got an early start and drove about 15 minutes to hike to the Nojoqui Falls after breakfast.

Nojoqui Falls near Goleta, CA

When we arrived at the park there was only one other car in the lot so we knew that it’d be a quiet hike without a big crowd.  There weren’t any signs for the waterfall and the family from the other car asked me if I knew where it was.  Well, I didn’t know it myself but common sense told me that it’ll be somewhere up the mountain (really, there was nothing else there but the parking lot and a road leading up the mountain) so we started walking.  It was an extremely short and easy trail, so easy that we discussed going up and down twice to make it feel as if we exerted any energy at all.  Within 20 minutes or so we reached the waterfall.  By no means was it the Iguazu Falls but Nojoqui Falls was unique in its own way.  This 80ft waterfall was gentle and almost lady-like.  I’m not sure whether in winter when it rains more the amount of water from the fall increases but when we visited, there weren’t more than two long streams.  Framed by moss and fern it seemed shy and timid.  I thought it was sweet.

We spent some time poking around the bottom of the waterfall before turning around and heading back out.  By the looks of the crowd that was coming up the mountain, we knew we did right by going there early.  I found this waterfall online; I wondered how everyone else knew to go this little waterfall…

Old Mission Santa Ines

Back in Solvang we went to see the Old Mission Santa Ines.  The Spanish missionaries and supporting military started from San Diego in 1769, establishing missions (21 in all) along Camino Real or King’s Highway along the coast of California.  Founded in 1804 the Santa Ines mission was the last one in southern California; the self-guided tour took us through a few rooms, the main church, courtyard, and the cemetery.  It was a nice cultural and historical stop in a town that seemed a bit like a theme park.  Since we were in the area and wanted to take a drive, we drove out to Lompoc to visit a much larger mission at La Purisima Concepcion.

La Purisima Concepcion

The scale of La Purisima Concepcion could not be compared to Santa Ines.  Founded in 1787, it was the 11th of 21 Franciscan missions in California and originally covered 470 square miles.  At its peak close to 1,000 people lived and worked there, producing hides and blankets with 24,000 cattle and sheep.  Established as a state historic park now, extensive restorations have been done to preserve its history and a modern visitor’s center provided sufficient educational material.  We walked through its vast grounds but didn’t get even near the 25 mile hiking trail.  I could only imagine what it was like 200 years ago when all those Chumash Indians and Spanish missionaries were working and living there.  How difficult it must have been…

La Purisima Concepcion was the last stop on our road trip and we made our way back towards Los Angeles.  There was still a ton of things for us see, do, and definitely more for us to eat in California.  Next up, a burger showdown.

Old Mission Santa Ines: http://www.missionsantaines.org/home.html

La Purisima Concepcion: http://www.lapurisimamission.org/

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